Fantasy Football: 8 Lists Of 8

| 4 years ago

Fantasy Football: 8 Lists Of 8

In honor of Matthew Berry’s annual “10 Lists of 10” piece, here are “8 Lists of 8” to consider on this the eighth day of August.

Waiting on quarterbacks has been quite trendy in early drafts this season and figures to continue given the extreme depth of the position. After the elite signal callers are selected in the top 20, consider these facts when looking to fill the void in your roster.

  1. Have a league that rewards the big play? Two quarterbacks (minimum of 17 career regular season starts) completed more 40-plus-yard passes than interceptions thrown: Aaron Rodgers and Joe Flacco.
  2. With the exception of passing yards, Christian Ponder (63.7%, 89.5 QB Rating, 1.83 touchdowns per interception) had better home numbers than Matt Ryan (65.1%, 86.2 QB Rating, 1.22 touchdowns per interception).
  3. Matthew Stafford averages 34% more touchdowns per interception when playing indoors. Five of the Lions final six games this season are inside.
  4. For the fourth straight season, Philip Rivers saw his QB Rating and TD: INT ratio increase in the season’s second half. After their Week 8 bye, the Chargers play three of the six worst passing defenses (in terms of yards allowed) over the next 1.5 months. Is it possible to buy low now?
  5. I love Ryan Tannehill this season, but things could get dicey as the season progresses. He thrived in a warm weather environment (College Station) in college and last year in the pros, but was unable to produce in anything but ideal conditions. In four games last season played at less than 60 degrees, Tannehill averaged 154.3 passing yards with only one touchdown. Normally this wouldn’t be a concern for a QB in South Beach, but the Fins end the fantasy season (Weeks 13-16) with three games in what should be frigid conditions (New York, Pittsburgh, and Buffalo).
  6. Russell Wilson completed nearly 65% of his passes while averaging 188 yards, 2.13 touchdowns, and 0.25 interceptions at home last season. The Seahawks first six home games come against teams that ranked 22nd or worse against the pass in 2012.
  7. Through two seasons, Cam Newton has a better TD: INT ratio when his team wins (8.5) than Aaron Rodgers did through his first two seasons as a starter (7.8). If you’re buying the Panthers you’re buying Ca$h Newton.
  8. As a fantasy community, we fell in love with the playmaking ability of Mike Vick eight years ago, fawning over his athleticism and ability to rack up fantasy points when other quarterbacks would have simply lived to play another down. The same people are critical of Cam Newton when it comes to consistency, something that feels like a double standard. In his first two seasons in the pros, Newton has totaled 276.7 fantasy points on the ground in standard scoring leagues (six points for a rushing score and one point per ten yards gained), 65 more points than Vick’s best two-year stretch. Add to the equation that Newton has completed 58.9% of his passes over that stretch as compared to Vick’s mark of 53.9% and you’ve got yourself a talent worth taking a chance on after the elite quarterbacks are drafted.

With the vast majority of owners selecting two running backs with their first three picks, it is critical you make the right call. With skill sets and team situations very similar, it can be very hard to distinguish between a player destined to carry your team versus one who will cripple it. But that’s what I’m here for. Take a look at these numbers before pulling the trigger on a running back.

  1. Every team goes into every game with a game plan, but as Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” The Texans have managed to stick to their identity more often at home than on the road, as Arian Foster has averaged more carries, yards per carry, and touchdowns at home over his career. Houston finishes the fantasy season with four home games and two road games (both against teams that ranked in the bottom four in terms of stopping the run last season).
  2. Simple logic would tell you that a young running back that put together an elite rookie campaign would be in for an even greater workload in his sophomore season. Doug Martin averaged 6.0 yards per carry in games in which he had at least 25 rushing attempts last season, a 38.3% increase over his rate in games with 20 or fewer carries.
  3. Seven players currently under the age of 30 in the NFL notched at least seven carries of 20+ yards and registered 54+ first downs last season, six of them (Peterson, Foster, Lynch, Martin, Charles, and Morris) going in the first round of most drafts. BenJarvus Green-Ellis was the only other back to do so.
  4. LeSean McCoy has averaged at least 100 total yards per game in each season following his rookie campaign in 2009, something Adrian Peterson has not done. He has also scored 0.81 touchdowns per game over that stretch, something Marshawn Lynch (0.69) has not done.
  5. After compiling at least 11 rushing touchdowns in consecutive seasons in 2009 and 2010, Chris Johnson has totaled just ten rushing scores in the last two seasons. The inconsistency of the 80+ yard run is partly to blame, but he has amassed a whopping six yards on 18 carries inside the opponent’s 10-yard line in those 32 games. Long touchdowns aren’t bad if you get the occasional cheapy to balance the scales, but with the addition of Shonn Greene, the seasons of 20+ carries and six touchdowns inside the 10-yard line are guaranteed to be a thing of the past.
  6. Football, at its core, is a game of moving the chains. Ahmad Bradshaw saw a higher percentage of his carries result in a new set of downs (25.3%) than any running back consistently being drafted in the first round.
  7. The knock on Darren McFadden has been his inability to stay healthy, but has the production really been that great when he is on the field? Over the last two seasons (19 games), DMC has 1,321 rush yards and six scores. In 2012 alone, six RB’s totaled more rushing yards and 14 found the paydirt at least seven times.
  8. Ray Rice has averaged 5.41 yards per touch on 347 touches per season since his rookie campaign in 2008. Adrian Peterson has averaged 5.24 yards per touch on 335 touches per season since his rookie season in 2007.

The wide receiver  position is deep this year, and with some studs changing uniforms and others aging, who can you trust? Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to the top notch pass catchers, including favorable numbers for a receiver who is falling in nearly every expert’s rankings this preseason.

  1. Wes Welker has caught 100 passes in five of his last six seasons but has never scored more than nine touchdowns. The leading pass catcher in a Peyton Manning led offense has scored double digit touchdowns 10 of the last 14 seasons.
  2.  Marques Colston has totaled 4,394 yards and 34 touchdowns since 2009 and has been a near lock for 80 catches, 1,110 yards, and 8-10 touchdowns over that span. With an ADP of 43, he’s going well behind Larry Fitzgerald (4,438 yards, 31 TD, ADP of 28) and Brandon Marshall (4,856 yards, 30 TD, ADP of 17) despite Sean Payton’s return. Some will argue age (30 years old) is a factor, but Colston has put together his best 27 game stretch of his career (151 catches for 2,139 yards and 18 touchdowns) heading into this season.
  3. There’s a player out there being drafted as a low end WR2 and is typically available in the sixth/seventh round according to ADP who has averaged 94 catches for 1,276 yards and eight touchdowns over the last eight seasons in which the best quarterback on the roster was the team’s starter on opening day. That same player has not missed a game since his rookie year in 2001, and while I think the PFF staff is a bit too high on this player, the general public seems to be undervaluing the veteran. That player, my friends, is Reggie Wayne.
  4. Before you pencil Danny Amendola in for Wes Welker numbers, consider the fact that Welker has averaged 17.6% more catches and 27.3% more yards per catch over his career than the newest Patriot. Sure, part of that has to do with Tom Brady and the New England offense, but Welker’s ability to find openings cannot be forgotten. Health is also a concern, as Amendola missed 22 games in four seasons with the Rams, more than seven times the number of games missed by WW in six seasons with New England.
  5. Carson Palmer has not quarterbacked a team with a 1,050+ yard receiver since 2007, not a good sign for his top receiver in Arizona. Larry Fitzgerald had eclipsed that number in five consecutive seasons, but failed to get there last season (798 yards). Those may be circumstantial statistics, but Palmer is 34 years old and Fitzgerald will be 30 by opening day, and that’s a fact.
  6. Calvin Johnson had himself a historic season and is atop nearly every cheat sheet you’ll come across. Let’s continue the “eight” theme and take a look at Megatron’s best eight games of 2012 (161.4 fantasy points in standard scoring leagues). That sounds like a huge number, but Dez Bryant (162 points) proved to be the king of the big performance. Consider the fact that both his YAC and touchdown rate have increased with each passing season, the former Oklahoma State star has officially arrived.
  7. Speaking of “eights”, take a look at these numbers: 12 catches for 207 yards and zero touchdowns. Now, that could be a strong week for Calvin Johnson (he posted those exact numbers and even found the endzone for good measure in Week 10) or it could be the grand total of Torrey Smith’s worst eight games in 2012. He no longer has Anquan Boldin or Dennis Pitta to attract attention in the middle of the field, and despite winning a Super Bowl and signing a massive contract, Joe Flacco still has his limitations.
  8. Andre Johnson ranked second in the league in receiving yards last season with a career high 1,598, a number that most are projecting to decline in a big way given his advanced age (32) and the Texans ability to pound the rock. Before you dismiss the notion of drafting him, assuming that someone will view him as a WR1, it is important to work with the numbers Johnson has presented us with. For arguments sake, let’s say he does regress to the mean. Over his ten year career, The Natural has been targeted 9.51 times per game and has caught 62.3% of passes thrown his way. Those figures won’t add up to the 112 catches he had last season, but a 95 catch season is nothing to sneeze at. Multiply that by his 13.8 yard per catch average, and you’ve got yourself a 1,307 yard campaign. Combine that with the fact that Johnson has caught at least eight touchdowns in three of the past four seasons he has played 10+ games, and you’ve got a wideout’s whose age should be of no concern.

The general feel at tight end is that it is Jimmy Graham and then everybody else and I don’t disagree with that sentiment. Only one owner is going to get the services of Graham, however, meaning you’ve got a field of 31 starting tight ends to consider. With a lot of similarity at the position, I’d prefer to wait too long and have to readjust my target than reach a round early on a player I sorta kinda feel almost good about, and here’s why.

  1. Owner A got 72 catches for 948 yards and 13 touchdowns from his tight end position last season while Owner B totaled 80 catches for 834 yards and 12 touchdowns. We can agree that Owner A had better production, but in a PPR league, you’re looking at an advantage of less than one fantasy point per week. Owner A spent a high pick on Rob Gronkowski and selected Zach Miller late as a backup. Owner B, on the other hand, simply managed the position well. He rostered Scott Chandler for the first four weeks of the season before selling high after a fast start. He then saw a favorable matchup for Dwayne Allen in Week 5 against the Packers and spot started him. He then cut ties and picked up the recently dropped Brandon Myers (fresh off of one catch performance followed by a DNP). The ride with Myers lasted eight glorious weeks until he once again decided to sell high in order to improve his team elsewhere. He gave Joel Dressen a one week trial due to a favorable matchup in Oakland (Week 14).For the fantasy playoffs (Weeks 15-16), Owner B took a flier on Delanie Walker, noticing that the 49ers offense was in need of a chain mover and that Kaepernick wasn’t going to Vernon Davis all that often. Sure, this scenario would include some very timely decision making, but the point remains. Tight ends are going to produce, and you don’t necessarily need to spend a high pick to get in on the fun.
  2. Heading into last season, Dustin Keller averaged 54 catches for 639 yards per season. Those numbers would have ranked as a fringe TE1 in 2012, as Antonio Gates produced a similar fantasy stat line (49-538-7). Keller is now in Miami with potentially the most explosive offense of his career.
  3. Fred Davis has accumulated 71 catches for 907 yards and two scores over his last 16 games. He recorded a career high six touchdowns in 2009 with a mobile quarterback (Jason Campbell) under center. Reportedly both Davis (torn Achilles) and Robert Griffin III (torn ACL) are on the fast track to recovery and expected to be active when the season starts.
  4. Since his rookie season, Jermichael Finley has averaged 61 catches for 772 yards and five touchdowns per 16 games. A surprisingly high 68% of Greg Jennings’ receptions over the last two years have come ten or fewer yards down the field, but he’s now in Minnesota. Finley saw his impact in the short range passing game increase when Jennings was hampered by injuries (58% his catches in 2011 were less than ten yards down the field with a healthy Jennings, a number that jumped to 77% during an injury plagued 2012 for Jennings).
  5. Tony Gonzalez, albeit marginal, saw his fantasy numbers decline in the second half of 2012, something that has occurred each season he has spent in Atlanta. He’s still a very good tight end option, but at 37 years old, that trend is a bit concerning given the Falcons week six bye and travel heavy conclusion to the season (three road games from Weeks 13-16).
  6. Despite seeing his game count increase, Antonio Gates has seen his yardage total decrease in each of the past two seasons. His yards per catch, catch percentage, first down percentage, and YAC have all steadily declined as well.
  7. Speaking of Gates, he and Tony Gonzalez have caught at least five touchdowns in each of the past five seasons. The only other tight end to have such an active streak: Greg Olsen.
  8. Alex Smith has been criticized for his inability to throw the ball down the field, and with 60% of his touchdown passes over the last two seasons not traveling more than ten yards in the air, it would be hard to argue otherwise. Anthony Fasano has scored on 13.9% of his receptions over the last two seasons with 80% of his scores last season coming on passes thrown less than ten yards down the field.

Those stats are nice and can help you in a big way, but it’s about time to get bold. Really bold. Late round picks with lofty expectations are one thing, but I’ve included some early round picks as well, allowing you to fill your team with these players if you so choose.

  1. BenJarvus Green-Ellis will score ten touchdowns. As a member of the Patriots, he found pay dirt on 5.7% of his rush attempts, but managed to do so on only 2.2% of his carries in his first season with the Bengals. The schedule lines up nicely, as they play seven teams in a nine game stretch that ranked in the bottom half of the league of touchdowns allowed on the ground last season. Even if Giovani Bernard cuts into his touches a bit (career high 300 touches), a bounce back campaign for the 28-year-old bruiser is ahead.
  2. Trent Richardson will flirt with 380 touches and compete with Adrian Peterson for the highest usage rate in the NFL. Norv Turner likes to rely on one running back and the Browns simply lack playmakers elsewhere. His blend of a violent running style and buttery soft hands make him the type of versatile running back who should near 25 touches every week.
  3. C.J. Spiller will accumulate 2,000 total yards. While I don’t think he repeats his 6.8 yards per touch from last season, his increased workload should lend itself to a nice yardage total. Other than the Steelers, what defense scares you on the Bills schedule? I also like the fact the two of his final three fantasy relevant games will be played in nice weather. Move over Johnson, there’s a new CJ2K in the league.
  4. Matt Ryan will throw more touchdown passes than Ben Roethlisberger and Russell Wilson combined. The addition of a pass catching running back in Steven Jackson is huge and Jacquizz Rodgers should see more targets as well. The return of Tony Gonzalez to an already loaded receiving nucleus gives Matty Ice video game potential.
  5. Jay Cutler will finish 2013 with his most passing yards and touchdowns as a member of the Bears. Alshon Jeffery should make the receiving core a deeper one that relies less on Brandon Marshall to make every single play. The addition of Martellus Bennet provides a much needed chain mover for Cutler to use on third down. Chicago’s new regime sounds intent on getting Matt Forte the ball in space more so than last year’s career low 60 targets. The numbers to exceed his 2009 totals of 3,666 yards and 27 touchdowns.
  6. Hakeem Nicks will not only be the Giants top receiver, he will serve as a top 12 fantasy receiver. The injuries (foot, hamstring, knee, etc) are a concern, but all reports have him at full health right now for the first time in a while. With Nicks averaging nearly 75/1,100/8 per 16 games played (similar stat line to Victor Cruz 2012) and at only 24 years of age, I like his potential to take a step forward in an offense that likes to stretch the field. The Giants schedule should lend itself nicely to explosive offensive shows down the stretch, which makes Nicks a valuable fantasy commodity when you need it the most.
  7. Not one, not two, but three Packers will find the endzone 10+ times. Randall Cobb is the trendy pick to break out in a big way, but with Aaron Rodgers calling the shots, I expect a solid distribution of passes. James Jones proved himself as a solid redzone threat (14 touchdowns in 2012) and Jordy Nelson (expected to be ready for Week 1) has scored 22 times in his last 28 games. Eddie Lacy is a nice improvement at running back, but I can’t imagine the Packers trusting him more to get six points than Rodgers. Jermichael Finley will also rebound in a big way, but it’s the receivers whose numbers will jump off the page to you.
  8. Martellus Bennett will rank in the top five in touchdowns scored by a tight end this season. The newest Bears pass catcher caught five scores last season after going 47 consecutive games entering 2012 without a touchdown. Matt Forte is supremely talented, but doesn’t excel in the red zone and opponents figure to load up on Brandon Marshall (65% of his receptions last season inside the 20 yard line went for six points) the closer the Bears get to pay dirt. Jimmy Graham should finish ahead of him, but with Gronkowski ailing, Gonzalez potentially aging, and then a lot of similarity at the tight end position, I like Bennett’s scoring potential (especially given his ADP).

The crew here at PFF does a wonderful job in providing their 2013 Fantasy Football Staff Player Rankings every year, but nobody is perfect. Here are a few tweaks (as of August 2nd) I’d consider making before your draft.

  1. Darren Sproles (23rd-ranked running back in standard scoring leagues): I understand that the pass catching extraordinaire doesn’t produce a typical stat line for a RB2 and that he is considerably more valuable in a PPR format, but that doesn’t mean his value is shot in standard leagues. During his two seasons spent in New Orleans (one of which came without his head coach), Sproles has averaged 77 yards and 0.59 touchdowns per game, numbers that are similar to that of Frank Gore (87/0.53) and far surpass DeMarco Murray (87/0.26). His upside may be capped by his lack of rush attempts, but to have him ranked behind three running backs who have yet to prove anything as a starter (David Wilson, Lamar Miller, and Chris Ivory), two high injury risks (Darren McFadden and Murray), and a player whose ceiling might be Sproles-esqu (Reggie Bush) is going a bit too far. Don’t be surprised if the return of Sean Payton results in Sproles finishing the season closer to an RB1 than an RB3, upside not indicated by his ranking.
  2. Danny Woodhead (46th-ranked running back in PPR scoring leagues): The former Patriot finds himself in a position to win less football games, but his fantasy potential increased quite a bit with the move west to San Diego. He currently sits right behind Ryan Mathews on the depth chart, and while I fully understand protecting investments with hand cuff players like Bernard Pierce (39th-ranked running back in PPR) or Bryce Brown (42nd), those players are dependent on an injury happening to a player without a real injury history. Woodhead (see Evans, Brad) is simply waiting for the season to start, as Mathews has been the poster boy for early season injuries. Even if the Bolts starter can stay on the field through the first month of the season, Woodhead has proven himself a capable pass catcher and should be on the field more often than any reserve back. Philip Rivers doesn’t seem likely to be chucking the ball down field, making Woodhead the logical check down option on a consistent basis. It’s not out of the question for this 28-year-old spark plug to record 800 total yards and 40-50 receptions with a healthy Mathews, giving him a lower floor than most backups. I’m drafting him ahead of the annually disappointing Mark Ingram (32nd-ranked running back) regardless of the status of Mathews, with the belief his value could jump to RB2 status should the fragile fourth year pro out of Fresno State falter.
  3. Ben Roethlisberger (14th-ranked quarterback):  Winning NFL games and winning fantasy games are two very different things, and I believe Big Ben’s ability to do one has skewed the perception about him doing the other. I have all the respect in the world for Roethlisberger as a signal caller, but the oft-banged up quarterback simply doesn’t offer the upside worthy of being drafted as a top 20 quarterback this season. Could his final numbers end there? Maybe. But if I’m taking a backup quarterback (or am the last to take a QB in a deeper league), I’d prefer the upside of Mike Vick, the youth of Ryan Tannehill, or the weaponry of Josh Freeman. Losing Mike Wallace limits the Steelers ability to stretch the field, and the questionable future of Heath Miller (knee surgery) will impact their redzone efficiency. There are five quarterbacks ranked below 14 that have a receiver ranked in the top 11, and having an elite playmaker can cover many mistakes. Roethlisberger no longer has that luxury and lacks upside this season.
  4. Russell Wilson (ninth-ranked quarterback): I was not a fan of where Wilson was going in early drafts and the loss of Percy Harvin only solidifies this belief. For all intents and purposes, the ex-Viking will not be around (projected return is Week 13) to improve Wilson’s pass catching core from last year, and with Sidney Rice (knee) less than 100% healthy, the Seahawks aerial attack might be behind where they were one year ago. Sure, Wilson has had another offseason to grow and mature, but from a fantasy perspective, is he going to have enough opportunities to be a QB1? His rushing stats helped his final stat line, but nearly 19% of his rush yards and 75% of his ground scores all came in one game against the Bills. He fired 17 touchdowns and only two interceptions at home last year while his nine passing scores on the road outpaced his interception total by only one, a dangerous trend when you consider the Seahawks play at San Francisco and at New York (Giants) in the first two rounds of the fantasy playoffs. Seattle implements a run heavy game plan and plays in a division loaded with defensive talent, two traits I’d look to avoid when drafting a starting quarterback. I’m taking all of his sophomore signal callers ahead of him, as well as perennial contributors Tony Romo and Eli Manning. Marshawn Lynch is going to be counted on in a big way after a career best campaign (338 touches for 1,786 yards and 12 scores), making it difficult for Wilson to rank in the top 15 in this age of pass happy offenses.
  5. Ryan Broyles (58th-ranked wide receiver in standard scoring leagues): The youngster has had serious problems staying healthy, but considering that you won’t be counting on him to carry your team, why not take the flier? Let’s compare him to Michael Floyd, a receiver ranked 17 spots higher and a player whose value seems to be increasing as we approach the season. Broyles plays in an offense with Matthew Stafford that set an NFL record for passes thrown (727) in a division that features average at best defenses. Floyd has the 33-year-old Carson Palmer calling the shots in a division that features two of the top five defenses in the NFL. Both Broyles and Floyd have an elite pass catcher playing opposite of them, but Broyles offers more of a change of pace than Floyd does. In Arizona, Larry Fitzgerald can make the big play down the field, much like Megatron in Detroit, but Broyles (5’10 188 pounds) is more of a slot receiver who has the ability to rack up the receptions while Floyd likes to stretch the field. No matter how talented Floyd is, the Cardinals will take their chances going deep to Fitzgerald every time, limiting his big gain potential. I prefer Broyles to Floyd, and it’s hard for me to view the suspended Josh Gordon (33rd-ranked wide receiver) or the constantly hurt/suspended Kenny Britt (40th) as considerably better options.
  6. Reggie Wayne (10th-ranked wide receiver in PPR scoring leagues): The soon to be 35-year-old veteran had a huge season (106-1,355-5) in welcoming Andrew Luck to the NFL, but can he continue to stave off Father Time? The Colts now have a pair of receivers in Darrius Heyward-Bey and T.Y. Hilton who are destined to eat into Wayne’s 195 targets from 2012. The tight end tandem of Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen, neither of whom was a teenager when Wayne’s career began, should grow with Luck and become primary targets in chain moving situations (Wayne caught 56% of his total passes ten or fewer yards down the field last season). Indianapolis brought in Ahmad Bradshaw to join Vick Ballard in a backfield that will look to take some of the pressure off of Luck, the second most used quarterback with 689 total yardage attempts (pass + rush attempts). Wayne’s touchdown rate (one score every 39 targets) was his lowest since his rookie season in 2001, so if the catch total regresses, Wayne is unlikely to compensate with more than a handful of scores. He will remain the Colts most productive receiver, but from a fantasy perspective, I’m drafting him more as a mid level WR2 (below the ever consistent Marques Colston who is ranked 18th) than the best pass catcher on my team.
  7. Owen Daniels (ninth-ranked tight end in PPR scoring leagues): I believe Daniels has talent, but I’d have a hard time taking him as a TE1 this season. The Texans have an explosive running game, an elite receiver possession receiver, and an underwhelming quarterback. Those factors limit Daniels’ upside even before you mention his inability to stay completely healthy and effective for an extended period of time. Antonio Gates has been targeted 6-plus times per game in eight of nine seasons since his rookie campaign and has scored at least seven touchdowns in all nine of those seasons, yet he is ranked considerably lower (15th) than Daniels who has never reached either one of those marks. If I’m looking to roll the dice on an injury prone tight end, it’s Fred Davis, who is four years younger and has a quarterback on the uptick. Daniels is a decent player, but at this price tag, the risk outweighs the reward.
  8. Jermaine Gresham (16th-ranked tight end in standard scoring leagues): The last time we saw Gresham he was dropping a key pass against the Texans in a hotly contested playoff loss, thus leaving a sour taste in our mouth. We then completely dismissed him as a useful fantasy commodity when the Bengals selected Tyler Eifert with the 21st-overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Not so fast. Gresham had himself a very solid season (64-737-5) and is essentially a physical clone of Eifert with a few years of experience under his belt. The early word in Cincinnati is that the team will opt to have both playmakers on the field at once, so I’m not worried that Gresham is going to be losing his spot on the field. He will be entering his third season with Andy Dalton calling the shots, more than you can say for three tight ends ranked ahead of him (Jared Cook, Martellus Bennett, and Brandon Myers) who are attempting to adapt to a new system/quarterback. In my opinion, there are a lot of question marks after Greg Olsen (sixth ranked tight end), giving the 25-year-old Gresham (averaging 96 targets per 16 games) a chance to continue his growth and approach TE1 status this season.

I’m a stats guy through and through, so the thought of a “useless stat” is a foreign concept to me. While spinning numbers into convincing arguments is part of the job, here are the top eight stats that, while factually correct and interesting, will have little use in fantasy football this year. But hey, you can impress at the water cooler, and isn’t that at least part of the reason you play?

  1. Peyton Manning threw more interceptions than touchdowns once last year (Week 2). He has never thrown more picks than scores in the same week in back-to-back seasons.
  2. Matt Ryan has thrown for at least 200 yards in four of his last five Week 9 contests, something you’d assume he can accomplish this season at Carolina. The week after such a performance, Ryan has completed 63% of passes for an average of 332 yards and a 5.0 touchdown to interception ratio. He has increased his yardage total with each passing occasion (411 yards last season), attempting at least 50 passes in each of the last three instances.
  3. Over the last four seasons, Eli Manning has averaged 27.8% more yards per pass attempt when playing at home after consecutive road games than when he doesn’t (Giants have two such instances this season).
  4. Phillip Rivers has an average QB Rating of 123.4 during Week 14 home games, throwing 10 touchdowns and only one interception in the process. For reference, he registered a 123.3 QB Rating during his last home Week 14 game (2011 vs Buffalo) by completing 24 of 33 passes for 240 yards and a 3:0 touchdown to interception ratio.
  5. In four of his five seasons in the NFL, Darren McFadden has had a game with at least 115 total yards and a touchdown before Week 12 (averaging 20.5 touches, 165.5 yards, and 1.8 touchdowns in the process). The same McFadden has had a game with 30 or fewer total yards and no touchdowns before Week 12 in every one of those seasons (averaging 7.3 touches for 17.8 yards).
  6. Alfred Morris scored 13 rushing touchdowns last season, more than All World runners like Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch. He, however, failed to score in 71.4% of odd numbered weeks.
  7. Steven Jackson has increased his receiving yards per game by 44% in even numbered years (minimum of 20 receptions in a season) as compared to odd numbered years.
  8. Roddy White has scored the week before the Falcons bye in three straight seasons and in five of six. He’s averaged eight catches for 110 yards in those five contests, reaching paydirt six times.

The game of fantasy football is a strange beast. It can mean so much to some (we will call these people “reasonable”) and so little to others (these people fall into the category of FTEP – Failing To Evolve Properly), but at the end of the day, it means something to everyone. These are the top eight responses I got when I asked everyone from established experts to casual fans to my girlfriend’s sister to finish my sentence: You know it’s fantasy football season when …

  • Brad Evans – Yahoo! Fantasy Sports – @YahooNoise: Ryan Mathews shatters a collarbone on his first preseason carry.

Good news for those who have yet to do much research, the fantasy season has yet to officially begin. That being said, the Chargers open their preseason tonight so …

  • Zac Fluewelling – Draft Gods Fantasy Sports – @ZFluewelling : all I can think about before I go to bed is whether or not I want to draft a QB in the 1st round this year.

I’m thinking this could lead to some rough nights of sleep. The natural progression of your dream would be the second and third rounds, where grabbing starting running backs is going to be necessary, but more along the lines of a nightmare than a dream.

  • Karina Vattana – Elite medical student attending the University of Buffalo – @kvattana: the leaves start changing colors and the scent of specially roasted hazelnuts wafts into my open bedroom window… wait, what is fantasy football?

This feeling of comfort and peace can be summed up in far fewer words among the fantasy football diehards: Draft Day.

  • Jake Ciely – RotoExperts Managing Editor – @allinkid: the 8,000 mock draft invites I receive. Give or take 1,000

He knows he is going to be pummeled with these invites, yet after checking his spam filter, not a single one comes up as junk mail. In the fantasy world, practice doesn’t make perfect, but it does make opening day come quicker.

  • Tristan H. Cockcroft – ESPN Fantasy Sports – @SultanOfStat: I begin taking Twitter football questions like this one.

This seems like more of a distinction without a difference to me. In a football obsessed country, one season ends and preparation for the next season begins. An unofficial survey showed that the average male spends more time per year researching fantasy football stats than he does listening to his significant other. The only reason it’s an “unofficial survey” is because every married analyst is afraid to publish it.

  • Justin Kanamine – Penn State Shooting Guard: the NBA/NHL Finals ends there’s a big lull in the sports world. The only newsworthy topics are NFL arrests so what better time to switch the focus to fantasy football?

Even for a well rounded sports fan, the fantasy football season begins far before any draft takes place. Kanamine shared this video less than a week after the Miami Heat were crowned. The only piece of fantasy news that came out quicker than the impact of Aaron Hernandez’s arrest on the value of Tom Brady were fantasy team names you could now use in reference to the debacle.

We fantasy analysts are people too! Everyone likes the extra attention that football season brings. We may be stat nerds, but the High School chain of command is flipped these days. Unless you play in the NFL, you don’t see the increase in popularity with the season approaching that solid sites like FantasyTrade411 do. “If you’re like me, you’ve been doing mock drafts since the Super Bowl ended”. The man works hard and puts out a great product, so why not bask in the glow?

  • Joe-Todd Weaver – Altoona Intramural Legend: Calvin Johnson. That is all.

Weaver dominated his leagues last year and is once again looking to ride Megatron to a title. Player loyalty is something that has fascinated me in any sort of fantasy sport. I’m sure you’re in leagues (be it baseball, basketball, football, etc) where certain players seem to always belong to the same owners. That’s not a problem for you unless said owner continues to run the tables on an annual basis. The TMR says stay away from Johnson in the first round, but that’s unless you’re playing JTW, in which case it is never too early to take the freakish Lions wide out in an effort to prevent a dynasty.

  • Nick Ellinger

    Russell Wilson: “I’m taking all of his sophomore signal callers ahead of him”. I’m assuming you mean just RG3 and Luck, right? Not Tannehill and Weeden also?

  • Mike

    Hey, I’m telling you…don’t shy away from taking a QB in the 1st. Far less prone to injuries and won’t have to worry about taking a handcuff.

  • Carl

    You do realize Floyd plays for Arizona right? So he wont have to face his own defense in a regular season game?